One of the keys to having a great school year is a clean and organized classroom. When things are tidy and everything has a place, the flow of daily routines and lessons is much smoother. Part of that is also in doing some daily and weekly classroom cleaning. Instead of taking on the task yourself, get students involved in the clean-up using these eco-friendly and kid-safe methods. They are easy on the environment (and your wallet!) and can be done by even the youngest elementary-age students.
Eco-Friendly Classroom Clean-Up
Super All-Purpose Spray
Create your own all-purpose spray with some white vinegar and water. Mix two parts water to one part white vinegar, stir, and pour into spray bottles. This non-toxic mix helps clean classroom surfaces, windows and more. Do not forget to label the spray bottles with the contents!
Baking Soda Cleaner
For those surfaces that see a lot of dirt and grime, a paste of baking soda and water will do the trick to get them clean. Use one part baking soda to two or three parts water to create the paste. Students can actually help in measuring out the ingredients for the paste with measuring spoons. Once the paste is made, spread it out on the dirty surface and rub it in gently. Let it sit for a few minutes and then rub it off with a damp rag. The result will be a sparkling surface without the use of harmful chemicals.
Window Wipe Down
Sure, commercials tout the benefits of using streak-free, chemical laden cleaners, but for the classroom there is something safer and less expensive. Save your Sunday newspaper and have students use the newsprint to wipe down the glass after a quick spray of vinegar/water mix (see above). Everything from classroom windows to door windows to the screen of the overhead projector will come up sparkling with a little elbow grease and some giggles.
Minty Fresh Dry Erase Board Cleaner
After heavy use during the week, the dry erase boards probably look a little worse for the wear. Never fear, there is an eco-friendly and kid-safe method for removing those old marker stains and marks – toothpaste! It is a peculiar solution to use, but any white paste toothpaste will work. Have students place a pea-size amount of toothpaste on a rag and spread it over a small area of the white board. Turn the rag over and when you wipe the toothpaste off, the old marker markings will come off too. The best part is that the classroom will smell minty fresh after the boards are clean!
Cleaning the classroom can turn into a fun weekly activity that gives students that ever-important sense of ownership. Let students get involved and provide them with the materials that will help them clean in a safe and effective way. Your classroom (and the school custodian!) will be so happy you did!
Tell Us: Do you have a favorite cleaning method that is both eco-friendly and kid-safe that is not listed above? Share with us below or on the Really Good Teachers Forums! We would love to know how you keep your classroom clean!
This article was originally published in 2010 and updated in 2016.